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How To Brainstorm Domain Names

How To Brainstorm Domain Names
How To Brainstorm Domain Names

If you’re in the business of creating websites and registering domain names you will have encountered the all important question: What do we call it?

When starting a business, now-a-days, thinking of a name that could be registered as a domain is very important [if you will operate a lot on the web]. That said, availability of a name shouldn’t compromise what you are actually trying to achieve with the name.

First of all I’ll draw on Chris Garrett’s post on choosing domain names [see How To Choose A Domain Name]. He identifies some pitfalls of domain name branding and what you should be looking for when choosing one:

  • How original and unique is it?
  • How descriptive is it?
  • What image does it convey?
  • Would you remember it after seeing it once?
  • Could you spell it after hearing it once?
  • Conveniently, those points are pretty much in the correct order for brainstorming names.

    First find one that’s available, then discuss whether it works or not. Does it say what you want? Are there negative images or ideas associated that don’t fit? Is it memorable and easy for new users to find after maybe hearing about it in conversation?

    Brainstorm

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    I think the first rule for brainstorming is having a partner. A second opinion is crucial for weeding out what you think might sound good at first but really isn’t right. This is almost like instantly having that realization when you think of an idea, walk away, and then come back to it later.

    Before beginning some guidelines should be laid out. That is, what you are looking for in the name, keywords, length and general ideas associated. This should be kept pretty general and not strictly adhered to if necessary. That way new and better ideas can come up.

    Throwing ideas at each other can be done in two manners:

    1. The first is the no-critique approach where no idea is too dumb and everything gets written down. After which you revise the list and whittle it down to only the good stuff.

    From there you cut more and more until you have the name. If no resolution is found, you do it all over again – eventually the right name will come.

    2. The second method is more of a conversation and, I think, works best for domain registrations. With each name a snap judgment should be made. Making quick decisions is perfect because domain names are your first point of contact and, generally for branding purposes, should make a good first impression.

    What’s great about working with a partner and just throwing ideas at each other is, usually, a name will come up that both parties instantly agree on. It’s a zen sort of moment when nothing is said for a second and everyone is in. Like most idea generation, when it happens you will know.

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    How To Brainstorm Domain Names

    Availability

    More important than anything when talking about domain names is availability. You can’t register something that’s already registered, so brainstorming is important. While brainstorming name ideas there are a few tools that will help.

    Using instant domain searches are great because they provide instant notification when a domain name is unavailable. This is important when brainstorming because you can instantly have an idea shut down and move on to the next. This saves a lot of time.

    One’s I’ve used are InstantDomainSearch.com and AjaxDomainSearch.com which work fine, but my preference is AjaxWhois.com for one reason.

    AjaxWhois stands out because of it’s Favoriting feature. When you come across a name that works and is available [your maybe’s] you can save them on the site for future reference.

    To Note

    I have found that sometimes when one of these fast domain searches say a domain is available you will later find, when attempting to register, that it isn’t.

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    In which case it’s a good idea to have your host or where ever you register your domains open as well so you can check the ‘available’ domain names. This is just a case of double checking since, for some reason, those searches make mistakes.

    Ideas For The Future

    Darren Rowse brought up an interesting point about future-proofing your domain name and extending it’s use later down the line [see Choosing The Domain Name For Your Blog].

    For instance, you don’t want your site to look dated based on it’s name alone. Likewise, if your business [or blog] outgrows the limits of your domain how could you expand properly?

    Another ‘future factor’ to consider is how many blogs you’re thinking of starting on your domain. Take a look at About.com for an example of how it’s possible to have one domain with many blogs running off it. They blog ‘about’ hundreds of topics and have a domain name that suits this perfectly.

    Top Level Domains

    The benefit of sticking to a .com [instead of .net or .com.au etc] is standardization. When talking about your site and letting word of mouth and other marketing do it’s thing, having something that is easy and known works best.

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    When you mention to someone that you have speaker site about monitor speakers that is called Speaker Freaker, you don’t want to be correcting everyone that it’s actually a .net and not the, always assumed, .com.

    Also to consider is cost. In Australia a .com.au is much more expensive than a .com and requires a registered business number [ABN]. This is great for availability and recognition as a business, but bad for keeping the costs down and, generally, international appeal.

    Criteria

    I would group certain criteria to keep in mind when registering any domain name. These are as follows:

  • Availability – is it up for grabs?
  • Suitability – does it fit the business, content or target audience?
  • Memorability – can someone just hear about it and put it in their address bar without errors?
  • There is some leniency for the Suitability criteria. You may decide on a name that is almost completely unrelated to your business based on branding alone. Think of Nike or Darren’s example of BoingBoing.

    With this checklist and a good understanding of what you want the site to do, you should find that all elusive domain name to be easier to snatch than you think.

    More by this author

    Craig Childs

    Craig is an editor and web developer who writes about happiness and motivation at Lifehack

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    Last Updated on November 5, 2019

    How to Cultivate Continuous Learning to Stay Competitive

    How to Cultivate Continuous Learning to Stay Competitive

    Assuming the public school system didn’t crush your soul, learning is a great activity. It expands your viewpoint. It gives you new knowledge you can use to improve your life. It is important for your personal growth. Even if you discount the worldly benefits, the act of learning can be a source of enjoyment.

    “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” — Mark Twain

    But in a busy world, it can often be hard to fit in time to learn anything that isn’t essential. The only things learned are those that need to be. Everything beyond that is considered frivolous. Even those who do appreciate the practice of lifelong learning, can find it difficult to make the effort.

    Here are some tips for installing the habit of continuous learning:

    1. Always Have a Book

    It doesn’t matter if it takes you a year or a week to read a book. Always strive to have a book that you are reading through, and take it with you so you can read it when you have time.

    Just by shaving off a few minutes in-between activities in my day I can read about a book per week. That’s at least fifty each year.

    2. Keep a “To-Learn” List

    We all have to-do lists. These are the tasks we need to accomplish. Try to also have a “to-learn” list. On it you can write ideas for new areas of study.

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    Maybe you would like to take up a new language, learn a skill or read the collective works of Shakespeare. Whatever motivates you, write it down.

    3. Get More Intellectual Friends

    Start spending more time with people who think. Not just people who are smart, but people who actually invest much of their time in learning new skills. Their habits will rub off on you.

    Even better, they will probably share some of their knowledge with you.

    4. Guided Thinking

    Albert Einstein once said,

    “Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking.”

    Simply studying the wisdom of others isn’t enough, you have to think through ideas yourself. Spend time journaling, meditating or contemplating over ideas you have learned.

    5. Put it Into Practice

    Skill based learning is useless if it isn’t applied. Reading a book on C++ isn’t the same thing as writing a program. Studying painting isn’t the same as picking up a brush.

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    If your knowledge can be applied, put it into practice.

    In this information age, we’re all exposed to a lot of information, it’s important to re-learn how to learn so as to put the knowledge into practice.

    6. Teach Others

    You learn what you teach. If you have an outlet of communicating ideas to others, you are more likely to solidify that learning.

    Start a blog, mentor someone or even discuss ideas with a friend.

    7. Clean Your Input

    Some forms of learning are easy to digest, but often lack substance.

    I make a point of regularly cleaning out my feed reader for blogs I subscribe to. Great blogs can be a powerful source of new ideas. But every few months, I realize I’m collecting posts from blogs that I am simply skimming.

    Every few months, purify your input to save time and focus on what counts.

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    8. Learn in Groups

    Lifelong learning doesn’t mean condemning yourself to a stack of dusty textbooks. Join organizations that teach skills.

    Workshops and group learning events can make educating yourself a fun, social experience.

    9. Unlearn Assumptions

    You can’t add water to a full cup. I always try to maintain a distance away from any idea. Too many convictions simply mean too few paths for new ideas.

    Actively seek out information that contradicts your worldview.

    Our minds can’t be trusted, but this is what we can do about it to be wiser.

    10. Find Jobs that Encourage Learning

    Pick a career that encourages continual learning. If you are in a job that doesn’t have much intellectual freedom, consider switching to one that does.

    Don’t spend forty hours of your week in a job that doesn’t challenge you.

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    11. Start a Project

    Set out to do something you don’t know how. Forced learning in this way can be fun and challenging.

    If you don’t know anything about computers, try building one. If you consider yourself a horrible artist, try a painting.

    12. Follow Your Intuition

    Lifelong learning is like wandering through the wilderness. You can’t be sure what to expect and there isn’t always an end goal in mind.

    Letting your intuition guide you can make self-education more enjoyable. Most of our lives have been broken down to completely logical decisions, that making choices on a whim has been stamped out.

    13. The Morning Fifteen

    Productive people always wake up early. Use the first fifteen minutes of your morning as a period for education.

    If you find yourself too groggy, you might want to wait a short time. Just don’t put it off later in the day where urgent activities will push it out of the way.

    14. Reap the Rewards

    Learn information you can use. Understanding the basics of programming allows me to handle projects that other people would require outside help. Meeting a situation that makes use of your educational efforts can be a source of pride.

    15. Make Learning a Priority

    Few external forces are going to persuade you to learn. The desire has to come from within. Once you decide you want to make lifelong learning a habit, it is up to you to make it a priority in your life.

    More About Continuous Learning

    Featured photo credit: Paul Schafer via unsplash.com

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